The word “Church” was first mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 16:18 when Jesus said to Peter “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” From that Scripture, few of the many things that could be deduced from it is that Jesus told Peter He was going to build a church, the type in which the gates of Hades (the gate of hell) cannot prevail against. It then tells us that the type of church Jesus established can’t be prevailed against by the devil and his cohorts.
Again, Ephesians 2:19-22 tells us something profound about the church of God. It says “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” There are a number of things we can deduce from the verses above as well, when it comes to the church of God.
Number one, apostle Paul made it clear that there exists an “household of God”, which is another term that can be used to refer to the church. It means as at this time, Matthew 16:18 had been fulfilled. Also, we can see that the church there was built on the foundation of “the apostles and prophets”, which means that the church of God was built on something; men. Peter was an example of this. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said “…you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.” That tells us that there is a footing; when we are examining the basis upon which God founded His church, the rock, the apostles and prophets.
The rock, we later read in Ephesians 2, that it is Jesus; when apostle Paul wrote “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
The church of God, as we will discover shortly, is founded on nothing but the truth as well. Again, apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:15. It says “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” This again buttresses the fact that the foundation upon which the church was laid is Jesus. If you examine the phrase “the pillar and ground of the truth”, the truth there talks about Jesus. How did we know this?
In John 14:6a, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life….” Also, in John 8:32, Jesus said “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” If we are to tie all these we have examined above together, it then means that Jesus owns the church. No man can lay claim to any church as its owner, contrary to what we have in our time today.
The church of man on the other hand, possesses every characteristics different from what has been described above. I remember sometimes ago, when the issues about whether to tithe is compulsory in the New Testament and why Pastors are making the matters of tithing compulsory for their congregation, Pastor Paul Enenche said something profound at the time which still resonates with me till today. He said concerning the matter of tithing, “it is the church of man that is under attack and not the church of God.” The church of man is constantly under attack because God has been taking out of the equation. Majority of the men of God or those who have been called to Pastor the church have taken on the role of God.
They have made themselves the veil that is now covering the eyes of the people, preventing them from having the needed relationship with God. Many congregants know their Pastor more than they know God, their creator.
Unlike the church of God, the church of man is founded upon the pastor or the general overseer. He is the “author and finisher” of the church, and not Jesus. Sometimes, the congregants subtly referred to them as “daddy” and his wife “mummy.” He is revered even more than Jesus, who owns the church.
The church of man have put truth aside, and have hung on to fables. In most cases, the congregants would rather give glory to their pastors than to God. Men have now become the “god of men.”
The church of man is clearly more interested in wealth accumulation than enriching souls with the necessary spiritual diets that can edify. Pastors nowadays are in the race of buying private jets, drive the latest cars and live in exotic mansions. Congregants can continue to wallow in their poverties, no one cares! As long as tithes and offerings are coming into the church coffers every Sundays, congregants can continue to trust God for their own financial liberations. But I thought the early church shared everything amongst themselves, no one preferring himself more than the other person. Acts 4:32 tells us “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.”
Acts 2:44-45 “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” Where exactly did this principle of sharing disappeared to in the church of man? When you x-ray why there are challenges in the church today, it is because some of the principles that made the early church succeed have been put away. Why? Because they do not suit the times we live in, at least, that would be the argument that would be advanced. Many would say the church have evolved and some of those principles can no longer work.
But whether we like it or not, we must go back to the foundation. No man owns the church, God owns His church and until we do church His way, some of these problems facing the church will not go away. The truth must be restored in our churches. Pastors should refrain themselves from preaching and teaching fables, but go back to preaching the undiluted word of God. This is how the dignity in the church can be restored, and the name of God glorified.
[Centre for New Dimension Leadership]